Director(s) – Anthony Catanese (Sodomaniac, Girls Just Wanna Have Blood), Tim Ritter (Truth or Dare, Sharks of the Corn), Todd Sheets (Bonehill Road, Dreaming Purple Neon), Brad Sykes (Camp Blood, Plaguers), and Josephina Sykes (Hi-8, Hi-Death)
Starring – Geoff Allen, Sheila Brandon Allen (Hollywood Werewolf, Clownado), and Raven Black
Release Date – 2022
Rating – 3/5
Several years ago, almost a decade now, I was contacted by indie filmmaker and producer Brad Sykes to review his anthology film Hi-8 (Horror Independent 8). Honestly, it was a lot of fun. The set up and concept behind the film really worked for an anthology film and the segments were indie horror gold. I enjoyed it a lot and I still recommend it to this day when people ask me for movie recommendations. A few years after the success of Hi-8 Sykes and other filmmakers gave fans a worthy follow-up in Hi-Death.
Hi-Death was another great horror anthology that lived up to it’s namesake but just not quite as good as the original. It’s a lot of fun especially if you enjoyed the first film. I knew the popularity of the two films would inspire another sequel and it did. A few days back Brad reached out to me again to review the third installment Hi-Fear. Like always I want to thank Brad for allowing Horror Society and myself the opportunity to check out your hard work!
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows an aspiring author and illustrator who receives a mysterious call where she is forced to tell four gruesome tales to the caller. The first story follows a group of young men looking for a good time in a whorehouse but soon discover that this particular one has a dark secret. The second tale follows a preacher who suspects his wife is sleeping around on him. In a fit of rage, he strangles her and tries to hide the body. However, an officer that is part of his congregation “helps” him hide the body with disastrous results. The third tale follows a homeless teen who finds herself stalked by a demented man who thinks he is saving her soul. The fourth and final tale follows a group staying in a cabin that was meant to be the base of operations for a film. However, when no one shows they try to contact the outside world and quickly realize something catastrophic has happened. **Spoiler Alert**
Hi-Fear is not a bad film but it is the low point in the Hi-8 trilogy. I loved the aesthetics and stories in the original which was loosely carried over into the film’s first sequel. However, Hi-Fear just doesn’t feel like a Hi-8 follow up. It’s a decent indie anthology but it doesn’t have that look and feel that made the first film so much fun. Honestly, I’m not a fan of the title or the wrap around segment but the rest of the film was just what I was looking for.
The acting in this one is very inconsistent. Some segments were a little better done than others. The wraparound segment for the film feels a little forced and her reactions were underwhelming but not bad. Just one of the many reasons this segment doesn’t work for me. The first story has some decent acting along with the second segment but my favorite acting can be found in the third and fourth segments. The characters are a little better written and the cast in these two do a fantastic job in their roles.
The stories for these varies and progressively gets better as the film goes on. The segment doesn’t work for me. It feels a little cheap and just tossed together last minutes as a way to book end the segments together. I love a good anthology and what makes Hi-8 so fun to me was the way everything was connected. Hi-Fear doesn’t have that. The first segment feels like two different stories that were forced together. If you separated the first portion with the preacher, his wife, and the officer you would have a pretty straight forward horror tale that could be pretty grounded and brutal.
Sadly, it’s not explored fully and the addition of the cannibal family at the end feels like another segment that could stand out on it’s own. I would have loved to see this family explored further and be the center of their own segment. The third segment following the homeless teen living on the street is one that took a few minutes to get the wheels rolling but once it gets going it delivers. The same can be said about the fourth tale. It’s a slow burn but once the story starts picking up you find yourself glued to the screen.
Finally, the film has some visual and practical effects. Some of the segments have some decent looking effects with some blood and light make-up effects while others have some very noticeable visual effects that don’t work like they were intended for. Overall, Hi-Fear is a decent follow up to Hi-8 and Hi-Death but it’s the weakest link in the trilogy. I had fun with it but it’s inconsistent humor, acting, and wraparound segment does make it one that I can’t love but I did enjoy it. Check it out especially if you are a fan of the other films.